March 1, 1921 – Proprietor of Watkins Glen International is born

Cameron Argetsinger, born on this day in 1921, put Watkins Glen, New York on the racing map. Cameron developed a need for speed at a young age, following the purchase of a MG TC in 1947. That car became his membership ticket into the Sports Car Club of America. Cameron, who grew up spending his summers in Schuyler County, NY, dreamed of hosting a sports car race in Watkins Glen. In 1948 he organized the first Watkins Glen Sports Car Grand Prix, though held on a circuit made up of public roads, not a race track.

Above: Watkins Glen International Course
Top: Cameron Argetsinger in 1948

The event became widely popular, but due to several deaths of drivers and spectators, it ended after eight years. In 1956, as Executive Director of the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Corporation, Argentsinger signed off on the purchase of 550 acres in Watkins Glen and a 2.3 mile racing course designed to imitate the area’s winding country roads was built. It would become known as Watkins Glen International.

F1 at Watkins Glen in 1974. By Christian Sinclair. CC2.0

In 1961 the track hosted its first Formula One United States Grand Prix. That race occurred at Watkins Glen every year through 1980. After failing to purchase the racetrack from the corporation in 1969, Argetsinger resigned as Executive Director and moved to Texas to work for Chaparral Cars. He passed away in Watkins Glen on April 22, 2008.

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